Dear Heart, Are You Alive In There?

My soul has been feeling tired for no reason for some time now.

As far as Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is concerned, I don’t lack anything. My physiological needs are met, albeit a little too much sometimes in the form of samgyupsal and/or brownies, which I often turn to when there is budget and craving. I drink plenty of water at work to stay hydrated. My apartment gives me the peace that my old home could not, even if I have to walk for 15 minutes. The exercise feels nice.

My job, despite the amount of pressure it instills, gives me purpose. Not everyone can tolerate spending an entire day with roughly around 300 kids without going apeshit. I take pride in the amount of patience and dedication I have, the amount of energy I have to exert. My family is technically intact in a sense, who I see every weekends to do my laundry at home. I don’t have any chronic illnesses, maybe. The answer will be verified once I get my new medical card. I’ve got insurance as well, not a lot of adults my age can say that about themselves. My money makes all of my ends and my vices meet, for I’m just right in the middle, who happens to have no retail obsession.

My friendship circles are few but valuable and have stood the test of time. There are friends who have lasted over decades, and some close to it. They all move at different paces, some getting married and having kids, others drinking and partying at night, everything I watch unfold on social media and occasionally in real life. They keep me in the safe middle where my mentality is to take my precious time, despite how my coworkers tell me to get married and have kids already like they did at their age. It gets irritating sometimes, but they mean well. Slowly the circles have been expanding through my hobbies over music and beer and drag race. Intimacy is a problem of mine, which my friends understand and makes me grateful.

But this vessel inside this chest doesn’t feel anything.

And so if it was possible to just open my chest cavity and knock on the doors to my heart, I have to ask: dear heart, are you alive in there?

Words have been tangled in my head for a while now, and it’s taking too much time to string it out into something sensible. Something worthwhile. Something that will make me feel. I haven’t written in a while, and I’m afraid I don’t know how anymore. Whenever I stare at my laptop, or my phone, I think of what I can write. They say write what you know, what you feel. These two things are a mystery to me.

I was often told that my star sign meant that I was an emotional person, who poured her heart out like spilled milk. They should flow like waves in the ocean, unending and sometimes too powerful for those who try to brave through them. If people word vomitted when they were drunk, I didn’t need the alcohol. Liquid courage does not apply to me because I am courageous on my own. My emotions should be on overdrive, past the point of no return. People like me felt too much and too fast, but somehow I have become an anomaly. I’m beginning to think I wasn’t born on the right day and time.

But I do feel that something is wrong with me, like there is a hole somewhere in this body that no one can find and therefore no one can fix, constantly attempting and failing to fill it up. Any conscious or unconscious effort to get them out, legal or illegal, have failed. At least it has been acknowledged, for what it’s worth. I won’t deny that I have a flaw. There are plenty more, like my gluttony and lust for life. My bad choices, which I do just because I want to feel something. It was all with a purpose, in my defense. I had to make sure I was still alive inside.

Is being stoic really a flaw? Some people wish to be like me, warming up to the idea of getting a lobotomy for your emotions. Vices seem to help, but it could have serious consequences. I have somehow inherently made myself emotionless, which some people found inspiring. Emotions could get pesky, especially when you have to think logically and critically. It could make people do the most irrational, spontaneous things. It could lead to one’s insanity. It could break someone’s heart. The mind is there for a reason, to calm the devastating waves inside a thundering chest. To look at things in different points of view. Somehow mine has become a tyrant, overtaking everything, invading my entire body. Now I’m just a bundle of nerves and thoughts, cold and unfeeling.

Oh heart, what happened to you? I know you’re in there. I can still feel you beating. In the literal, scientific sense, you are present. I feel you when I get heartburn from my acid reflux. I feel you when you’re pounding from a extraneous brisk walking when I’m running late. I feel and hear you when I’m all alone in the silence. But are you there there? Figuratively, emotionally speaking? Because I haven’t heard from you in a while that it’s starting to bother me.

Were you taken against your will? Honest to goodness, I don’t think you’ve been alive for years. Maybe the casual fling here and there weren’t enough for you. You didn’t even bother with them, didn’t even try. We came off as heartless, hurting them in the process. We shouldn’t have gotten into them when we weren’t entirely willing to even at least make a small effort. I know, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have entertained them in the first place. I can admit my faults now.

Heart, what are we going to do with you? It must be the insecurity or the lack of affection growing up. No wonder I don’t reciprocate or give good hugs. Maybe it’s the fear of making another mistake that when something feels off after opening a tiny hole in the wall, we build another, stronger one. It must be the instant letdown I give myself masked as not assuming anything unless otherwise stated. We observe and notice the littlest things on others, but fail to notice the ones for ourselves.

Heart, should I let you be? It’s not the most ideal option, but I’ve tried every possible thing without getting incarcerated or dying. There won’t be any diving into details, for I have a reputation to uphold. Without it, I’d be broke and we’d really die, from humiliation first and fatigue second. Your absence has also affected my consciousness, now missing as well. Remorse and guilt have left me too. Did you take them with you? Will you come back? What else do I need to do?

What can I do, heart? There must be something I can do to get you back to at least some sort of normalcy, even though I have forgotten what it feels like. I must be missing something, must have forgotten a detail that would help me get you back. Give me a sign, heart. Most likely in the form of skywriting, because I have gotten oblivious like that, thanks to you. Okay fine, in print will do.

Maybe you need time and space. There’s not much left though, given the broken state of this world. We could die any minute now from a nuclear bomb, get hit by a car because I walk around with earphones on, or a bullet from a gun. I can’t blame you, though, if you wanted a sabbatical from me. I don’t like myself either. How much do you need? A month? A year? A decade? No pressure for me. Don’t listen to the people around me.

I’ll let you rest for now, heart. It’s been distressful without you, but I guess I’ll have to make do for now. I know you’re in there, in hibernation maybe. It must be for the best. Maybe you’re waiting for the right moment, because I can’t seem to tell what’s right or wrong anymore. You’ll call the shots now, whenever you are ready. Until then, I’ll be waiting here.

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